Bamum people

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Image:Bamun artisan.jpg
Bamum artisan at work in Foumban

The Bamum, sometimes called Bamoum, Bamun, Bamoun, or Mum, are an ethnic group of Cameroon with around 215,000 members.


[edit] Religion

The Bamum traditional religion placed great emphasis on ancestral spirits which were embodied in the skulls of the deceased ancestors. The eldest males of each lineage had possession of the skulls of deceased males. When moving a diviner must find an appropriate place to hold the skull. Despite these efforts some men's skulls remained unclaimed and their spirits are deemed restless. Ceremonies are thus done to placate these spirits. There is also respect for female skulls, but the details are less documented.

Image:Njoya of Bamun.jpg
Sultan Ibrahim Njoya.

They also believed women made the soil fruitful. Hence women did the planting and harvesting. Masks and representations of the head also had importance. Although in modern times many Bamum are Muslim or Christian. King Ibrahim Njoya himself converted to Islam then to Christianity and then back to Islam after the Treaty of Versailles. He is said to have disliked abstaining from polygamy when Christian and from alcohol when Muslim so ultimately split the difference toward the end.

[edit] Writing system

Main article: Bamum language

They are one of the few Sub-Saharan African peoples to develop their own form of writing. This writing system had been created by a Bamum king named Njoya. Njoya built a museum and encouraged this system of writing. The writing, and Njoya's rule, survived under German auspices for a time. However in 1916 the French overran their society ending both things. The writing system developed by Njoya fell into disuse, but there is a resurgence in interest in it, and indeed work is going on to encode the script in the Universal Character Set.

[edit] See also

[edit] External links

Bamum people

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